Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Easter 17 Beloved

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not coin the phrase, but he popularized the notion of a "beloved community." I was just looking at a page on the King Center website that outlined some of Dr. King's core beliefs and of course, the beloved community is there. I recommend you click over there to read more.

Dr. King didn't see this community as a place without conflict, but where conflict was worked out and those in conflict found resolution as friends. Key to this "working out" was nonviolence, a commitment to it. This isn't something that Dr. King spoke of as being easy or spiritually lofty or idyllic. He wasn't naive about it.

I don't think it's putting too many words into his mouth to say that working toward the beloved community involved some dying to self. Perhaps the beloved community is the resurrection.

Working through my 50 days with this "discipline of celebration," I rub up against these notions that, on one level, may seem less than joyous. Few in our present culture feels much rapture at the idea of "dying to self."  We all like the idea of Easter glory, and too often regard the cross as a speed bump on the way to resurrection splendor.

And so, today, I'm reminded how much I am a part of this culture, how poorly I handle conflict, how much I'd just as soon skip the whole cross business, while also struggling to live in the joy of Easter.

And so today, I'm grateful for models of the faith, like Dr. King, Bayard Rustin, his teacher, and others before and after them who remind me that real grief and real joy are connected. Real conflict and real peace are intertwined. There is no resurrection community without death.

Today is a more thoughtful alleluia, but the discipline of these 50 days requires I say it anyway.

Alleluia, Christ is risen. Let us rise into the beloved community.

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